Daytripping to the Dead Sea with a Jordanian and his Family

I was reluctantly forced into a hostel in Amman, Jordan, but I ended up doing a day trip to the Dead Sea with the hostel owner and his family. I say day trip, but Khaled assured me it’d be best if we left about three in the afternoon. “Too hot, too hot,” he told me repeatedly. “During morning it okay but at 12 it too hot even for us. You pale, you fry like egg.” The Jordanian hostel owner grinned at me as I sat in the hostel’s communal area next to the breeze of a fan.

If Khaled hadn’t been so damnably nice and if he wasn’t going to drive me to the Dead Sea later, I might’ve been annoyed. I’d been in this part of the world for over a month now and I thought my skin was taking on a nice healthy UV-blasted tone. Here’s a picture of me from Petra the day before:

Looking Over Petra

If I was pale, that one kid I knew at school must’ve been Albino 2.0.

I passed the early afternoon wandering the area around the hostel, which was located in the centre of the city. Everything seemed bland now. The market/souq crowds were a nuisance rather than the magical unity of vibrant lives that they had been in Jerusalem and Akko. I just wanted to elbow everyone in the ribs and step on as many toes as I could. And that one guy who smashed right into me in a rush to buy his pastries? I wanted to ram that piece of cake right up his–

Would you look at that? Nearly three already! I stopped dreaming up ways of murdering these probably lovely Jordanians and headed back to the hostel.

Khaled was on the stairs and babbled to me, “Come! Come! Hurry!” so I raced up the stairs, shoved a towel and some swim shorts in my backpack, and headed back out into the heat. Thankfully Khaled’s car was air-conditioned. It seemed to be the only thing that did work, although the radio did cooperate after a few swift thumps. “Piece of– how do you say in English?”

“Trash?”

“Piece of shit, yes.”

I shrugged. We drove out of the city to a little suburb. He lived with his family in a really cute neighbourhood, a very “American dream” kind of area, if America was middle-eastern and Arabic-speaking. Get your head around that one, rednecks. We changed cars to something a little more functional and practical – a silver seven-seater Nissan. I turned around in my seat and was surprised to notice two little girls and a wife sitting behind me.

“Oh, err, hi,” I said.

“Hello English,” the little girls said. The wife just looked at me like I was some kind of museum curiosity, a Roman jug perhaps, or maybe a 5th-century Japanese bowl.

We drove for 20 minutes and then Khaled stopped the car in a two-lane road. He didn’t pull to one side or anything, just stopped in his lane. He got out and went into the tiny store that was basically a big metal shed by the side of the road. He came back out with a bunch of bananas and a handful of ice creams. He gave us all one of each. No, wait, he gave me an ice cream and two bananas. Quite a number of car horns were blaring behind us but Khaled stood in front of the car and waved happily at everyone.

I should mention here that he wasn’t taking me along with his family out of the kindness of his heart. No, it was in fact the case that I was paying the petrol money that enabled him to take his family out for the afternoon. Quite a lot of petrol money, I might add, but if it was paying for ice creams for us all I wasn’t going to begrudge him anything — a child’s smile is one of life’s most beautiful things, particularly if there’s ice cream all round it. Aww.

Walking to the Dead Sea

We got to the Dead Sea resort and I was stung for $16. Jordanians get in for $1 apiece and kids were probably free. It’s a good system I suppose but not every tourist has money dripping out of their ears Β to form large puddles at their feet. I headed in and left Khaled and his family at the swimming pool — his wife and kids apparently hated the Dead Sea itself. I hopped into the changing rooms and changed into my swim shorts and shoved everything else into my backpack. There were no lockers so I brought the backpack with me. I headed downstairs and out to the Dead Sea. Everyone else hopped, skipped and jumped across the burning hot sand but I’d wisely kept my shoes on to this point.

I left my socks, shoes and backpack at the water’s edge — I’m a trusting person and I wasn’t expecting anyone to take a liking to my backpack — and headed into the murky Dead Sea.

Dead Sea Resort

Let me tell you, floating in water at the lowest point on earth is neat. It would’ve been better without the “holiday resort” feel to it but access to the Dead Sea is controlled (fenced off in most non-resort locations) and I had no real means of getting here without assistance anyway, so I owed Khaled a lot.

Floating in the Dead Sea

It’s hard to explain what the sensation of floating is like. It’s relaxing, definitely, because you’re not expending any energy to keep yourself like that. It’s like lying down on the comfiest couch in the world, one that changes shape to suit you. But despite what that picture might suggest, it’s not so comfy as to give you a boner (that’s just air bubbles, I swear).

Floating in the Dead Sea is an experience you’ll just have to enjoy for yourself, but whatever you do, don’t get the water in your eyes. It happened to me twice, I’m not sure how, but goddamn does it sting. Imagine cutting yourself then pouring a spoonful of salt into the open wound, then imagine the wound was in your eye. All right, it’s not quite that bad, but I couldn’t open my eye for about 10 minutes after the incident without being in saline agony. It burns, man, it burns.

You can also scoop up the mud at the bottom of the Sea and rub it over yourself for some weird health reasons. I rubbed the thick, sludgy stuff over myself and ended up looking like Bigfoot’s anorexic cousin.

I stayed in the water a good few hours and then headed up to the pool. I swam for a while and watched the sun set.

Sunset at a Dead Sea Resort

Then it was time to go.

The kids fell asleep in the back of the car looking entirely content with everything. They’d enjoyed a great afternoon out of doing homework or playing in the house. As I watched the Jordanian landscape change from rural back to urban, I remembered day trips out from when I was a kid – to Wicksteed Park or to the beach or caravanning in Wales watching the rain batter the windows as we played Uno or Monopoly. Me and my brother always fell asleep in the back of the car on the ride home, tired and content. I realised that, despite the language and the country and the climate and a thousand other things, this culture was entirely familiar.

The world isn’t as big as we think it is.

120 Comments Add yours

  1. What a fantastic adventure! One I’m sure you will keep close to heart in years to come. Floating in the Dead Sea will be something you can always close your eyes and see again.

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      That’s the best thing about travel – the ability to go back whenever I want through my mind. Can’t get that with reading about a place from a book!

      Like

  2. Flossie says:

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed with this post!!!! πŸ™‚

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      Thanks!! So excited!! The pic on the FreshlyPressed page isn’t the greatest though, haha.

      Like

      1. Flossie says:

        ooh. Deja vu!! ha ha

        Like

  3. Very cool. You’re pretty good, kept my attention the whole way. You’re on to something here, keep it up! I’ll be watching for more posts.

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      There are some older posts to check out, some of which are even better than this one!

      Like

  4. Air bubbles…right…

    πŸ˜‰

    Great post — I can’t even imagine how cool such an experience would be. Thank you for sharing!

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      Well there were some cute girls around. And some overweight hairy men. *shrug*

      Like

  5. segmation says:

    It is amazing to me how the Dead Sea is evaporating so quickly. I wish this wouldn’t happen. Thanks for sharing your Dead Sea journey!

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      I’ve forgotten what I was told in terms of how long, but yeah, it’s bad. Check it out before it’s too late!

      Like

  6. ericajolo says:

    Cool perspective on the third photo!

    Like

  7. lornamurphy says:

    Hey, I have shared that experience and this really brought it back, it was a lovely read. And talk about pain getting getting salt in your eyes – I managed to slip and cut my leg on the salt rock – that was SO painful! Great descriptions and photos, look forward to seeing more! L x

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      I’m cringing right now. I feel your pain, brother!

      Like

  8. Great writing and great photos! Can’t wait to read more.

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      Don’t forget to check my other posts – “Masturbating in Restaurants” seems to be entertaining a few people!

      Like

  9. Thanks for the great window into a world I’ll probably never get to πŸ™‚ Loved your last line…

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      Never say never! You might wake up tomorrow with a pile of money at the bottom of your bed. Have hope my friend!

      Like

  10. Great post-what an adventure! How was Petra? It’s on my bucket list. Congrats on being FP.

    Like

  11. free penny press says:

    What a great re-telling of an amazing day-trip!!
    Congrats on the FP and oh, thanks for taking us all along for the ride πŸ™‚

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      Absolutely my pleasure. Entertaining others is the main reason I write!

      Like

  12. I absolutely love stories like this. I anxiously await the day I can travel to places like this. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      Don’t wait for the day, you have to go out and seize it! (or continue to read blogs like mine and travel vicariously)

      Like

  13. theoverflown says:

    Sounds like an amazing day-trip! What an incredible place to go to. . .

    Like

  14. Big Dave says:

    Excellent story, sounds like it was fun.. In ways haha.

    Great post

    Like

  15. Jean says:

    Great post and well-written about the floating experience in the Dead Sea.

    Like

  16. Though the floating sensation was cool, I have to say my most persistent memory of the Dead Sea is that the water just felt oddly slimy…

    I also happened to have a scrape on my hand that turned bright red after exposure to the water, and has since healed into a purplish/brownish scar. Interesting side effect to high salt quantities. πŸ™‚

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      A lot of people hate it and spend about five minutes in the water just to say they’ve done it. Pretty awesome to be able to show someone and your scar and say “I got this at the Dead Sea.” That’s the joy of travel!

      Like

  17. Awesome πŸ™‚ I enjoyed very much friend!!

    Like

  18. jramson says:

    Reblogged this on Proactive Strategies and commented:
    test

    Like

  19. Peggy Tee says:

    Lovely little story, enjoyed your post!

    Like

  20. Great story. Congrats on being pressed.

    Like

  21. Sounds like quite the experience. It always feels a little skewed when you have to pay 16x what locals pay to visit the same place, for no apparent reason other than you are foreign. Great job on being freshly pressed!

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      Petra was even worse. Locals were again almost free but us foreigners had to pay $85. Read more: https://comedytravelwriting.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/indiana-jones-and-the-obligatory-petra-reference/

      Like

  22. Sue Ghosh says:

    Love your narration of the adventure!

    Like

  23. tothelife says:

    Wat a lovely experience.. Loved imagining me floatig on dead sea.. πŸ™‚

    Like

  24. I am so envious. I have always wanted to go there.

    Like

  25. starlight says:

    congratulations! not many people has the chance for an adventure in the dead sea.. it must have been fun and exciting.

    Like

  26. Hilarious and well-written. Enjoyed it! Living in Dubai, I can totally envision him stopping the car in the middle of the road and thinking it’s normal/acceptable. Driving is definitely different in this part of the world! Congrats on being FP’d.

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      It’s hilarious to be a part of, but I don’t think I’d ever fancy driving in a place like that!

      Like

  27. PrettyGee says:

    Great adventure and i envy you. Anyway, this is a good post and congrats for being fp.

    Like

  28. ChildishMan says:

    Very cool. Hope to get over there some day. For now i’ll have to stick to the Appalachians and Smokies. http://thechildishman.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/mountains-chickens-stromboli/

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      The Smokies/Blue Ridge Mountains are amazing. Beautiful part of the world!!

      Like

  29. Alv A. Dahl says:

    Very cool photography..

    Like

  30. Fay says:

    Firstly congrats on the FP πŸ˜€
    Great post and lovely pictures – it sounds like it was quite an adventure even down to trawling through the market and stepping on toes! Next destination? πŸ˜€

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      Currently working in England, but might squeeze in a mini-break to somewhere like Poland/Switzerland. Japan or India will be my next big trip methinks.

      Like

      1. Fay says:

        India is next on my list. For a mini break however Barcelona will be next! I look forward to reading πŸ˜€

        Like

  31. Despite the fact that I am very buoyant and can float in ANY water, this sounds really neat. I want to try it someday. Glad to know that it’s going to take some money and some effort to get there.

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      I’m not sure why but this really made me laugh. Very buoyant, eh? That’s a great skill to have!

      Like

  32. Great post. Brought back memories of 1979/80 when I did it. Got the usual image of a friend reading the London ‘Times’ while floating. The paper got wet and ruined and my ‘friend’ disappeared 30 years ago. . . but the memories live on.

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      Ahh, travel. Adventures and memories to last a lifetime, to see you through the good times and the tough times. Thanks for sharing!

      Like

  33. You just took us on an adventure. The experience was potent enough to cause a slight shift in the way my reality looks — much like going to a distant land and returning home; your house, your dog, the contents of your pantry all seem to have taken on a novel and incandescent appearance. Your writing has done that.

    I also find it compelling that even in the most remote or foreign or unfamiliar of places, it only takes a specific matter of time before complacency sets in, the newness wears off, and our human-ness takes over and it suddenly makes no difference whether we are in Uzbekistan or our living room; people irritate and inconvenience us. We somehow find a way of losing sight of the wonder in all things, no matter how wonderful they are. Human nature, I suppose.

    Wonderful article.

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      Human nature indeed. I find it both fascinating and intriguing and is the reason I continue to travel, to find new places that excite me and where I don’t feel complacent (at least not immediately). Wonderful comment. πŸ™‚

      Like

  34. LaCaraVita says:

    Great writing and wonderful story. http://www.lacaravita.com. x

    Like

  35. Amanda says:

    Sounds like an amazing experience…I appreciate your urban cynicism as well!

    Like

  36. Tracy says:

    I liken the sensation to floating in olive oil. Great post!

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      Can’t say I’ve ever tried floating in olive oil myself, but if you say so. πŸ˜‰

      Like

  37. Awesome adventure and I’ve just added it to my to-do list! Looking forward to more fun adventures from you!

    Like

  38. CV ARISTON KUPANG says:

    Reblogged this on LISTRIK MENERANGI DAN MENCERDASKAN .

    Like

  39. Totally off topic, but still:

    What’s up with all these readers plugging their blog on your article? For what it’s worth, I find that insanely rude and immensely indicative of a person’s serious disregard for quality writing. Personally, I would never visit anyone’s site who has commented with a hyperlink and nothing of substance pertaining to the post itself. There are ample ways to raise your stats without looking like a total dueche, and more probably actually being one.

    I hope I’m never freshly pressed. πŸ™‚

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      Yup, they’re spam, and I should delete them.

      I’m more likely to click on someone (and go to their blog) if they’ve posted a funny/interesting/useful comment, not just a link. Good manners are attractive!

      Like

  40. kari kruger says:

    wow this is an item on my bucket list which i hope to one day experience! Thank you, I learned quite a bit from your experience.

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      Hopefully if anything I raised it a few places on your bucket list!

      Like

  41. zachbissett says:

    those pictures are something else. My girlfriend has been, I have not, she said it was kind of hard to float comfortably/read like everyone always talks about.

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      I didn’t actually try and read or do anything like that, but the water isn’t completely still – the second time I got salt in my eyes was caused by a surprise wave sneaking up on me. And if you just lie there, you end up drifting quite a lot.

      Like

  42. Samantha says:

    Great post! I appreciate your humour. I expect that I will think the same murderous thoughts as I am faced by elbows in my upcoming trip to India.

    Like

  43. Jillian says:

    I went on the Israeli side – so had a different experience getting onto the beach πŸ™‚ (Though there’s no pool on the Israeli side – I would’ve appreciated a dip afterwards for sure!)

    I definitely loved the sea too though, my friends and I spent definitely spent a significant amount of time in the water! (Luckily a German girl had warned us not to shave for several days beforehand, so no cuts or nicks to get wickedly burned!)

    And congrats on the FP! πŸ™‚

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      What’s the closest town to the Dead Sea in Israel? I was considering it but didn’t get round to visiting until I got to Jordan.

      Like

      1. Jillian says:

        Um… I believe it’s Eilat (at the Red Sea and the border of Jordan). My friends and I took a bus from Jerusalem, stopped at the Dead Sea for the day, and then continued on the bus later than night to Eilat. But there’s constant buses from Eilat and Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. It was pretty easy to get there.

        Like

  44. mirrormon says:

    Wowww… I ve always wanted to know about the dead sea… is the water actually still? I’d love to visit this side of the world…
    good post πŸ™‚

    Like

  45. abomediano says:

    Hey guys! Please check this out. This is really amazing!
    http://andreanentertainment.wordpress.com/

    Like

  46. ailsapm says:

    Haha, nice post, chirpy, congrats on being fp’d, you should join in the weekly travel theme on http://wheresmybackpack.com

    Like

  47. galangpusa says:

    Petra – this one is on my bucket list! An awesome read!

    Like

  48. U are a fantastic comedy-travel writer! My new inspiration πŸ™‚ I write a lot in a similar style too, but not as famous as you.

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      Take extra time over each post and make it funny AND serious and hopefully you’ll get Freshly Pressed!

      Like

  49. mattsminutes says:

    Great post. Makes me want to travel soooo bad again..

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      So go! Flights are cheap these days, or go for a roadtrip somewhere just for a day. Travel is all around us!

      Like

      1. mattsminutes says:

        Time & money are the two biggest factors. The best thing I can do is book a trip once or twice a year far in advance, and hope for the best. Chicago in a month, Vegas in January!

        Like

      2. ambigram0 says:

        Both great cities in VERY different ways! Definitely harder to travel from America because the place is so far from everywhere else. Europe is awesome!

        Like

Say Something!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.